Friday, December 2, 2016

Review + 2 GIVEAWAYS: Crime and Catnip




Crime and Catnip
By T. C. LoTempio
A Nick and Nora Mystery #3
Berkley, 2016


Summary

Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.

While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown.

As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him…

Includes delicious sandwich recipes!


My thoughts

With the title and handsome tuxedo cat pictured on the cover, Crime and Catnip is a book that called out to me, and I enjoyed it overall. Although #3 in the Nick and Nora mystery series, it can stand alone.

Crime and Catnip has several strengths – strong writing by T. C. LoTempio, lots of interesting characters, elements of international intrigue, a mystery that is complex and well plotted. And then there’s Nick, a smart tuxedo cat that steals the show! The story has certain cozy mystery elements, but feels more like suspense at times – resulting in a good blend of the two styles. I liked Nora and admired her determination and skill. There is some romance involved, although it doesn’t play a major part, and I’m glad to say there are no graphic scenes. The narrative held my interest and the final solution was a surprise.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t personally care for, but these won’t bother most readers. One is the psychic element brought in by a friend of Nora’s who owns a New Age shop. And secondly, the frequent use of mild profanity detracted from my enjoyment.

Overall, Crime and Catnip is an entertaining mystery.

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While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them in various places below . . .

Rocco's BlogWebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Purchase Links:  Amazon B&N

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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GIVEAWAY #1

To enter the drawing for a print copy of Crime and Catnip, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here.

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Thursday, December 8. Winner will be chosen by random.org and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents


GIVEAWAY #2

There is also a Rafflecopter Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Be sure to enter below!






Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas with Erma Bombeck, #1


A timeless Christmas classic from my favorite funny lady, Erma Bombeck . . .


If there is one man singularly responsible for the children of this country, it's Doctor Spock. (That reads strange, but I don't know how to fix it.)

What I'm getting at is, this man is the great white father of every parent who has bungled his way through a vaporizer tent or a two-year-old's tantrum. Why, there was a time when, if Doctor Spock had told me to use one-legged diapers, I would have done so without question.

Now he has shaken me up. He has said there is no Santa Claus and urges us to tell our children the truth.

"Kids, brace yourselves," I said. "Doctor Spock says there is no Santa Claus and that I should never have taken you to see a live one in the first place because his behavior is noisy and his clothes are strange. Also, he inspires greed."

They looked at each other, obviously stunned.

"That's just not true," one said. "You know there's a Santa Claus, just as you believe there are fairies dancing on our lawn."

"Knock it off with the 'Yes, Virginia' bit. I told you that. Now I'm telling you Santa Claus is an upsetting experience. There can't be a Santa Claus."

"There can if you want him to be," they said cautiously.

"I don't know," I hesitated. "He does have a certain magic that makes people happy and kind toward one another. He does keep the work economy steady for elves and gives seasonal employment to reindeer. Heaven knows, he has your father spending more money than he earns and all of us crawling around on the rooftops with strings of lights in our teeth. I don't know what to believe anymore. I've always had such faith in Dr. Spock!"

"Have you ever seen Dr. Spock?" asked one.

"No, but . . . now cut that out! I know he exists. The point is how can I go on believing in a Santa Claus who parachutes from a helicopter over a shopping center parking lot, breaks his leg and ends up in a hospital?"

"Well, where else would you go with a broken leg?" asked another.

"The point is, kids, he's merely a mortal man, and mortal men don't go around pushing their fat stomachs down skinny chimneys."

"Of course he's mortal," they explained. "Otherwise, how could he have eaten all those cookies you put out for him last year?"

"That's right," I said excitedly, "he really did come, didn't he, and left me that dreamy black jacket that I know your father wouldn't have bought. You know something? I believe in Yogi Bear, and his behavior is noisy. I believe in Phyllis Diller and her clothes are strange. I believe in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and they're not exactly philanthropic. Kids, there is a Santa Claus!"

As the curtain closed on this domestic scene, the seven-year-old leaned over to whisper in his father's ear, "Boy, Dad, she gets harder to convince every year!"

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If you’re an Erma Bombeck fan, or if you enjoyed this post,
I’d love to hear from you!


Erma Bombeck, At Wit's End, Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1965
Artwork:  Caught by Surprise by Tom Browning



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review (+ Tour Giveaway): Love for All Seasons



On Tour with Prism Book Tours.



Love for All Seasons: Four Inspirational Historical Romance NovellasLove for All Seasons
(Four Inspirational Historical Romance Novellas)
Inspirational Historical Romance
ebook, 164 pages
November 9th 2016

If you like the inspirational historical romances of Deanne Gist and Lauraine Snelling, you’ll love USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie! With four novellas—one for each season of the year—you’ll find a heartwarming collection of couples from a simpler time in America who discover the redeeming powers of faith and love.

A Long Winter Kiss

As Samantha and Rex’s childhood friendship matured into young love, they promised their hearts to one another, even as Rex headed off to war. But their hope for a bright future was shattered when Rex succumbed to his belief that the horrors of war had made him a man no woman could love. Now he has returned, and Samantha must help Rex see that he still has much to give—and much more to gain—by replacing fear with faith and opening himself to love.

An Unlikely Spring Courtship

Tempest worked hard to secure her independence as a woman running her own mercantile, so when Bram has the audacity to open a competing shop in a town with only enough room for one, Tempest is driven to despair. And then to retaliation. But when tragedy strikes their community and threatens everything they both hold dear, will they be able to recognize that what they share is far more important than what separates them?

A Summer for Love

Loralee’s life has changed dramatically in the eight years since she’s last seen the resort town of Bayocean, but one thing that has never changed is her feelings for Wyatt, a man she promised to meet at the resort on a specific day if they were both still unattached. When Wyatt appears on that date, as hopeful and uncertain as Loralee, the two must see if an old and abiding love has outlasted the changes wrought by time—and begin to build a new life together.

Romance in Autumn

Phoebe and James grew up together but apart in the same beautiful mansion, he as the son of the owners, she as the daughter of a servant. In the years since, Phoebe’s fortunes have changed dramatically, and she carries the dream of one day owning the mansion that is still close to her heart. Until James—now a deeply compelling man—delivers the bad news that securing the purchase will be all but impossible. As Phoebe reluctantly relinquishes her dream, she will also look deep into her soul to learn that a true home might exist in her budding love for James.



USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie is the author of western romances and the Of Love and War series, which includes Hope at Dawn, a 2015 RITA Award finalist for excellence in romance. She was born and raised in the West, where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys reading, road trips, interior decorating, chocolate, and most of all, laughing with her husband and kids. You can learn more about Stacy and her books by visiting her website at stacyhenrie.com.



My Thoughts

Novella collections and Christmas seem to go together for some reason, possibly because I’m looking for shorter stories during this busy season. Also, I’ve enjoyed other stories by Stacy Henrie in the Love Inspired series, so I was eager to read Love for All Seasons.

These four stories are built around a seasonal theme, set in different eras and settings – and I have to say that I love the cover. I was pleasantly surprised at how complete each story was, an element not always found in novellas. The characters are likeable, easy to connect with, and have depth. Spiritual themes are woven throughout as the characters live out their faith.

I enjoyed each novella very much and won’t even try to pick a favorite. Love for All Seasons is filled with sweet, touching stories – perfect for any time of the year when you’re looking for a satisfying shorter read.

Recommended.


Tour Schedule

November 27th: Launch
November 28th:
November 29th:
November 30th:
December 1st:
December 2nd:
December 4th: Grand Finale


Tour Giveaway

$40 Amazon eGift Card and Winner's Choice of an ebook of Any of Stacy Henrie's Books (you can see her books listed on Amazon here)
Open internationally
Ends December 8th

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Review (+Tour Giveaway): Finding Margo



 
Click here to purchase your copy.


About the Book

Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions . . . the kinds that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or the just the beginning . . . ?


About the Author

USA Today best-selling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at jenturano.com.






My thoughts


With Finding Margo, Jen Turano has waded into the waters of contemporary romance/suspense and delivered one highly entertaining novel! The era might be different, but the writing is not. I loved everything about this story and could have identified Jen as the author even if I hadn’t seen her name on the cover.

Finding Margo is fresh. It’s filled with Jen’s laugh-out-loud humor. It has a quirky feel to it and blends together several elements – a cold-case child abduction, mystery, romance, a touch of the Amish/Mennonite community, and witty dialogue. Margo and Brock are unique, very appealing characters with hidden depth, and their sweet romance is well balanced with the suspense elements. And then there’s the duck, which delivers one of the most delightful animal themes I’ve ever come across.

I appreciated the spiritual theme that we are more than the expectations family and culture might put upon us – and that God never leaves or stops loving us, but is always working to fulfill His plans and purposes for our lives.

An epilogue beautifully sets up book #2, to be released in fall of 2017. Not to wish the passing of time, but I’m eager for this!

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.



Blog Stops

November 17: Book by Book
November 17: cherylbbookblog
November 18: A Reader’s Brain
November 18: I Hope You Dance
November 18: Blogging with Carol
November 19: ASC Book Reviews
November 19: Bibliophile Reviews
November 20: Lighthouse Academy
November 20: Karen Sue Hadley
November 20: Back Porch Reads
November 21: Genesis 5020
November 21: 100 Pages per Hour
November 22: Pause for Tales
November 22: Quiet Quilter
November 22: Bigreadersite
November 23: Just Commonly
November 23: A Greater Yes
November 23: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
November 24: Smiling Book Reviews
November 24: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 25: inklings and notions
November 26: Daysong Reflections
November 26: The Scribbler
November 28: The Power of Words
November 29: Faithfully Bookish
November 29: Christian Bookaholic


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copies of her book! Enter below - and be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine entries on the giveaway!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review (+ Tour Giveaway) : Trust My Heart


Trust My Heart
By Carol J. Post
Waterfall Press, 2016


Summary

Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible.

The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore---much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant's fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there's healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what's needed to finally guide him home...

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2fg7WKG


My thoughts

Trust My Heart is an impressive contemporary romance set in the small town of Murphy, North Carolina. Carol J. Post has written several highly-rated stories in the Love Inspired Suspense line, which I’ve never read because I’m not much of a suspense fan, so I welcomed this contemporary. There’s an element of mystery surrounding Grant’s deceased grandmother and the McAllister estate that I thought was well done.

The Murphy, North Carolina setting was vividly conveyed and especially appealing, as I have spent many family vacations in the Smoky Mountains of this lovely state. It was fun to see this area through the eyes of Jami and Grant as she introduced him to several local activities – including hiking, geocaching, and whitewater rafting. A humorous secondary storyline involving Bernie and Hank, two quirky supporting characters, added depth.

When it comes to relationships, past experiences cause both Grant and Jami to have trust issues and insecurities, which felt realistic based on all that had happened. Also true to life is the different effect spiritually – one relying on faith, the other pulling away. I loved how mutual respect and friendship developed initially, then wanted to shake some sense into them when they reacted negatively rather than communicating when something happened to shake that fragile trust.

Trust My Heart has a solid spiritual foundation, and my favorite part was seeing Grant slowly open up as a result of Jami’s gentle witness. This is a story of forgiveness and second chances – and the characters reflect that, however much we might want a second chance, the extending of it is not always easy.

My only negative is that I would have liked more dialogue and action rather than so much dwelling on thoughts. Enjoyable story overall, though, and I hope there will be more Murphy, NC stories in the future.

Recommended.

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From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special-events decorating company, Carol J. Post's résumé reads as if she hasn't yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love of writing. She started as a child composing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles for religious and children's publications. Now she pens fun, fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for an RT Reviewers' Choice Best Book award and selected as an RT Top Pick.

When Carol isn't writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping---almost anything outdoors. She also plays the piano and sings with her music-minister husband. Their two grown daughters and their grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all her nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

http://litfusegroup.com/author/cpost

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GIVEAWAY

Join Carol in celebrating the release of Trust My Heart by entering to win her $75 Cozy Cash Giveaway.


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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Trust My Heart
  • A $75 Visa cash card
  • A basket full of goodies made in North Carolina to keep you cozy in the cooler fall weather

blog-tour-giveaway 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 23. The winner will be announced November 28 on Carol's blog.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: The Most Wonderful Time of Year


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
By Ace Collins
Abingdon Press, 2016


Summary

Celebrate 31 days of a Christ-filled Christmas season.

For Christians worldwide, the month of December is filled with joy and wonder as we anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth. There is no other time of the year that can compare to the Christmas season for both the young and young at heart.

From December to New Year's Eve, reawaken the wonder, joy, and magic that is Christmas with daily scripture and inspirational readings of stories behind popular Christmas traditions, carols and movies. Enjoy a wealth of fun activities to help make the most of the season, including heartwarming holiday recipes and homemade gift ideas.

With this soon-to-be-cherished holiday devotional, best-selling author Ace Collins will capture your imagination and help to make each day of December more memorable and meaningful to you, and those you love, by shining a light on the real spirit of the season.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2frWQG8


My thoughts

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Ace Collins is just that – most wonderful! This collection of 31 readings for the month of December consists of meditative thoughts, hymn stories, and a recipe or craft. On the surface, it is this varied grouping of seasonal readings that seems to make it attractive, but readers will discover a hidden depth beginning in the very first chapter.

Many excellent devotionals have been written, collections of hymn stories are available (some written by Ace Collins, in fact), and all types of recipe or handcraft books abound … So what makes The Most Wonderful Time of the Year special? I think it’s because, while this warm and cozy collection entertains, it offers quiet, reflective moments in the midst of an often-frustrating busy season – and we’re subtly challenged to shift our focus to others, being sensitive and responsive to the needs of those around us.

In the first day’s reading, everything is put into perspective as we’re asked to visualize the unthinkable, a world in which Christ had not been born. It was interesting to learn the meanings behind many of our Christmas traditions – that the evergreen tree represents eternal life, red decorations are symbolic of Christ’s shed blood, etc. In another chapter, Ace draws application from the wise men’s gifts, and I loved the suggestion to pray over our gift-giving list before beginning to shop.

Music is an integral part of Christmas, something that everyone can relate to, and this is one of the book’s strengths. Ace mentions some popular entertainers who were a vivid part of my growing up years – such as Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Bob Hope, Irving Berlin – causing many treasured family memories to surface. But most touching of all is the meditation on how George Frideric Handel came to write Messiah and the corresponding lesson of encouragement.

The hymn story of O Come, All Ye Faithful gives lyrics that include a verse I had never heard of, and I’d like to end with their beautiful thought . . .

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in the manger,
We would embrace thee
With love and awe.
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly?
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is an excellent devotional collection that can be used personally and would also be a most meaningful gift. Highly recommended.


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Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children's works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

http://litfusegroup.com/author/acollins

Ace Collins’ Magic of Christmas Prize Pack


Make this upcoming Christmas holiday a Christ-filled season of joy and wonder with the help of Ace Collins' new devotional, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. From December to New Year’s Eve, reawaken the Christmas season with daily scripture and inspirational readings of stories behind popular Christmas traditions, carols and movies. Enjoy a wealth of fun activities to help make the most of the season, including heartwarming holiday recipes and homemade gift ideas. Download a free sampler of the book by clicking here.

Join Ace's Christmas festivities by entering to win the Magic of Christmas Prize Pack. Create new traditions this holiday season with your family and friends with the goodies included in the giveaway.


mwty-400


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 21. The winner will be announced November 22 on the Litfuse blog.


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